by William Goldman
Released: October 20th 1999
Published by Bloomsbury
“…just like the film I loved it. It was funny, faintly ridiculous and highly entertaining.”
~ Under the Covers
I confess until recently I wasn’t really aware that The Princess Bride was a book. I was content with it just being one of my favourite films without it entering the realms of my TBR. But when I landed on Austen Row in the romanceopoly challenge, which calls for a classic romance, it was one of the first possibilities that popped into my mind. After all, as it says on the book cover it’s a classic tale of “True Love and High Adventure.” Perfect.
To call this book unique is a vast understatement. The premise of The Princess Bride is that Goldman is telling us a tale written by (fictional) author S. Morgernstern. Only he is giving an abridged version with only the exciting parts left in. During the book he will “interrupt” the story narrative and add his own thoughts about the book, about Morgernstern, about his own life. It sounds odd when explaining how the book is set up; however, it works really well. You end up with two stories: the tale of Westley and Buttercup and the semi fictional story William Goldman has woven about himself for the purpose of inserting into the narrative of the book.
If you’ve watched the film then Westley and Buttercup’s story will be very familiar. The film is an extremely faithful rendering of the book. So much so, that I had the film rolling in my mind as I read. And, just like the film I loved it. It was funny, faintly ridiculous and highly entertaining. It gently mocks the conventions it so dramatically uses, transforming a corny fairy tale into something that even now, over 30 years after it was written, makes it feel modern.
You also get to see that iconic characters you fell in love with during the film: Westley with his golden male beauty and sharp wit. Buttercup, the most beautiful woman in the world. Inigo Montoya on his quest for the six fingered man. Fezzik the strongest man in the world. My only grumble with this book was Buttercup. I remember her from the film as being a little vapid and like I said…the film reflected the books really well. However, I am applying a 2019 standard to a book written in the 70’s, so perhaps this judgement isn’t very fair.
I highly recommend giving this book a try, especially if you have enjoyed the film. It was quirky, funny and interesting, so if you want something accessible that is a little side road off the typical cast of “classic” romances, you need to give this book a try.
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